Debbie Mathers forgives her son Eminem's hateful lyrics about her - because she know's he just embarrassed about their "closeness" in the past.

The superstar rapper - real name MARSHALL MATHERS - made his name lyrically berating his mother to the point where Debbie launched a law suit against him.

However, Mathers, 49, believes the pair's close relationship before he found fame, as well as her own over-protective instincts, have led to her son's aggressive attitude.

She says, "The problem is, Marshall and I were really close and he is embarrassed about that. He lived at home with me until he was almost 26.

"My happiest memory is the first time I held him. He was tiny - just over five pounds. I'd been in a coma after the birth so when they handed him over, I just said to myself, 'No one's ever going to harm you.' I was like a lioness protecting my cub.

"Growing up, he was spoiled rotten. He was a mama's boy and I indulged him. If he was picked on at school, I'd pull him out, no questions asked.

"He has made up this person he describes in his songs. He makes out he was beaten every day and locked in closets and not fed. But it's not true."

Mathers also describes her shock when she first heard Eminem rapping about her in his breakthrough hit MY NAME IS.

She says, "I just thought, 'Oh my God.' It was like he was talking about someone else. He said, 'Oh, Ma, you got to go along with these songs.'

"But then the next record was worse and I asked him what he was doing and whether he was going to put me at the centre of everything.

"I asked him to cool it but he has never apologised for things said about me in those songs. The only way I can get through this is to believe that this evil lady is a character he made up."

However, Mathers concludes, "All I want is his respect and I don't think that is asking too much. God knows, if something happened to Marshall, I'd be the first one there.

"It hurts a lot but I know deep down inside that he does love me. They say you always hurt the one you love the most and I really believe that."

04/05/2004 02:11